This page will give you information about a turbinectomy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.
You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.
What are turbinates?
The turbinates (or nasal concha) are bony shelves in your nose covered by glandular tissue rich in blood vessels and nerves.
The turbinates help to regulate the flow of air through your nose.
The inferior turbinates can sometimes permanently enlarge and block your nose.
The inferior turbinates usually become permanently enlarged if you get rhinitis (inflammation of the mucosa) or if you use over-the-counter decongestant sprays too much.
What are the benefits of surgery?
You should get relief from a blocked nose.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Your doctor may be able to give you steroid nasal sprays, decongestants or antihistamines to improve your symptoms of a blocked nose.
Surgery is recommended only if medication has not worked.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed through your nostrils and does not result in any facial scars or black eyes.
Reducing the size of the turbinates usually involves passing an electric current through a needle (diathermy) or cutting away the lower or outer part of the turbinate (trimming).
Your surgeon may place some packing in your nose to prevent bleeding.
What complications can happen?
- infection of the surgical site (wound)
- blood clots
- scar tissue (adhesions)
- crusting in your nose
- increased nasal discharge
- atrophic rhinitis
- toxic shock syndrome
- damage to your tear duct
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day.
If you had non-dissolvable packing in your nose, you will need to stay overnight and the packing will be removed the next morning.
You will need to stay off work and away from groups of people for 2 weeks.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
The inferior turbinates can sometimes become permanently enlarged and block your nose. Surgery should relieve your symptoms.
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Last reviewed: September 2018